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Jerome Zanchi (1516–1590) on All Men are Bound to Believe in their Election in Christ.

October 13, 2009


The fifth Question

Whether every singular man be bounden to believe that he is one of the elect: and how he may be persuaded hereof. To this we will answer in two propositions, because it consists of two parts.

The first proposition.

Every man is bounden, by God’s commandment, to believe that he is elected, and predestinated to eternal salvation in Christ: but especially he, who is a professor of faith in Christ.

I say every man: even the reprobate, who never shall believe. For to all it is said, “Hear him:” that is, believe the Gospel [Math. 17:5.]. And of the wicked especially it is said, “The Spirit shall reprove the world, of sin, because they believed not in Christ,” [Joh. 16:9.]. And marvel not at this, that all are bound to believe though they cannot believe. For all are bounden to love God with all their hearts, to repent, &c., but all neither shall, nor can do this. Now if all be bounden to believe in Christ, then that they are elected in Christ. For these are inseparable: and who so doubts of the one calls into question the other. But for the proof of this proposition, mark: As man is commanded personally to repent, so by his own faith to be believe the whole Gospel. Both which are comprised in that speech of Christ, “Repent, and believe the Gospel,” [Mark 1:15.]. Now the Gospel does not only teach that Christ is a Savior only of the elect, &c., but that all such as are saved in him were so elected in him before the world was. Wherefore as every man is bounden to believe in his own salvation by Christ, so also his own election in Christ: and therefore because these benefits belong only to the elect, for whom they were prepared. Now that Christ belongs only to the elect it is plain. “This is my blood which is shed for you, and for many, for the remission of sins,” [Luk. 22:20]. “Christ was offered once to take away the sins of many,” [Hebr. 9:25.]. “I pray for them,” that is, for the elect: “I pray not for the world,” that is, the reprobate. Will he spill his blood for them, for whom he will not spend his breath? nay the sacrifice of his body was only for them, for whom was the sacrifice of his lips. But excellently says the Apostle, “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s chosen? it is God that justifies,” [Rom. 8:33.].  Whom? Even those chosen ones of God. So then whereas we read that Christ died for all, we must by all understand, all of the elect: for there is a universality of them: and that he died for the world, we must understand such only as are saved. For there is mundus salvandorum, a world of the saved: and mundus damnandorum, a world of the damned. Again only the elect have their sins forgiven: and so consequently saved by Christ: whom he has predestined (says Paul), them (alone) he has called (effectually), and whom he has called, them (alone) has he justified [Rom. 8:30.]. And blessed be God, says the same Apostle, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly things in Christ: even as he has elected us, &c [Eph. 1:3.]. But why were we blessed? because says he, God has elected us alone to such blessings. Besides, eternal life belongs only to them. For whom he “has predestined, them also” (alone) “has he glorified.”  They shall sit at Christ’s right hand for whom it is prepared [Rom. 8:31.].  Inherit the kingdom prepared for you [Math. 20:25.], shall Christ say, at the last day.  Wherefore every man is bounden to believe this even for himself. And are we not moreover commanded to believe that god in love through his Son has given unto us eternal life?So God loved the world,” &c., Joh. 3:16. “As thou hast loved me, so hast thou loved them,” says Christ, Joh. 17, But, “me hast though loved before the foundation of the world,” v. 24. “He loved us first,” says John, that is, from eternity, and that in Christ [1 Joh. 4:16.]. Therefore says Paul, it was said, “according to the purpose of God, Jacob have I loved,” [Rom. 9:13.]. We are besides in the gospel commanded to believe, and call upon God as our Father: can we do this without assurance of our election? “Fear not little flock,” says Christ, “it is your Father’s pleasure to give you the kingdom,” [Luk. 12:32.]. If you would not fear you must believe your election. For what is it else to have a kingdom given us, but to be elected unto salvation? if you do fear, you obey not the commandment of Christ. Why then say you, “I can believe that my sins are indeed pardoned in Christ: but that I am elected personally I cannot believe? is it because it is said, “the Lord knows who are is, and no man knows the mind of God,” &c. [2 Tim. 2:19.]. Why neither knows you whether your proper sins are forgiven, and whether Christ died particularly for you, by that kind of knowledge, of certainty of science [notitia & certitudine scientiae.] But I know say you this other, that is, that Christ died for me, by the knowledge, and certainty of faith. Why and this only is that knowledge and certainty of election which we do require in this place. But where says you does the Scripture set this down, that you particularly shall be saved. We read that Christ died for us, that the promises of salvation are universal. And because these promises exclude none, therefore are we to believe them. And the like may be said of election: that as out of the universal promises of redemption, you assume a particular: so must you out of the universal of elections: and the rather, because nowhere the Scripture does exclude you. If you object that the promises of election are not universal, because it is said, “Many are called but fire are chosen.” I answer, that indefinite propositions must be thought universal. And if this were a good reason, then the propositions of redemption should not be universal, because it is said that he “died for many.”  True then it is, that all are bounded to believe their particular election, without which assurance, there can be no assurance of faith in Christ. “For faith is only proper to the elect,” [Tit. 1:1.]. And, “as many as were ordained to eternal life believed,” [Act. 13:48.]  Another reason is this. You must either be persuaded of your election, or else not be persuaded at all, or at the least doubt. Says you that you must be persuaded? Why it is the thing that we do teach. That not at all: or that you must doubt? Why are we commanded the contrary in the Word. And God will have man to believe him without doubting. Nay this is a most pernicious conceit, not to be persuaded of your election. For as the persuasion of God’s good favor, and election, makes man to love, trust in, and give thanks to God: yea to contemn the world, and suffer all adversities: so to doubt of God’s mercy causes quite the contrary. You will not love, you dare not trust, you cannot give thanks unto him, who has not as you fear been so good to you, as to many thousands in the world. Is this then so pernicious to your soul? O I beseech you, flee it: is the contrary so sovereign for your salvation? O I pray you embrace it.

[Girolamo Zanchi] Live Everlasting: Or The True Knowledge of One Iehova, Three Elohim and Jesus Immanuel: Collected Out of the Best Modern Divines, and compiled into one volume by Robert Hill, ([Cambridge:] Printed by Iohn Legat, printer to the Vniuersitie of Cambridge. And are to be sold [in London] at the signe of the Crowne in Pauls Church-yard by Simon Waterson), 538-540. [Some reformatting; some spelling modernized; side-headers included; and underlining mine.]

[Notes: Worldcat and Wing identify this as as: “Largely a translation and abridgement of Zanchi, Girolamo. De natura Dei. Zanchi is identified in the side-note on page 655—STC…” I have inserted Zanchi’s name in the title as a reflection that because: 1) as noted, this is largely a translation of Zanchi’s work; 2) because it quite probably does reflect Zanchi’s theology; 3) because Wing attributes the authorship to Zanchi, and Hill as the translator; and 4) from the opening “Epistle Dedicatory” (3rd page) Hill identifies a work by Zanchi as the principal text upon which this work is based. Lastly, I actually suspect this is a much more reliable translation than Toplady’s briefer translation from the same work. 5) For more on Zanchi, with an attempt to explicate the complexity of his views on the nature and extent of the atonement, see: G.M., Thomas,  The Extent of the Atonement: A Dilemma for Reformed Theology from Calvin to the Consensus (UK: Paternoster: 1997), 87-99.]

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